Friday, September 18, 2015


Yeah, I'm pretty weepy today, I'm crying over a photo of a dead horse lying by the side of the road, seemingly untouched by fire, as if asleep. You half-expect him to rise up and gallop off. But his hooves will never pound the earth again. I'm sobbing for that poor black cat, so burnt, it's as if he turned to stone, like an Egyptian cat god. Yet he purred when the vet petted what was left of his singed coat. He was a symbol of hope, someone said. I'm crying for the fireman who brought the cat in, and for all the other unseen animals who perished in the fires.

I'm sobbing for the trees, the pines and manzanita, and for 75,000 acres. And the birds. I'm crying for the hay laden caravans coming down from the north to Middletown. I'm weeping for Michelle, who lost everything, except her life. All her poetry. All her belongings. Gone. Now times that by 20,000 people who've lost everything.

I'm crying for the loss of Harbin Hot Springs, and for Hoberg's, where my family used to play. I'm weeping for the communities all torn apart, and for the newer ones pulling together. I'm sobbing for my cousin, the fireman, a hero awaiting more skin grafts in a sterile hospital bed. I'm crying for his poor burnt hands, and his face, will he ever play the bagpipes again? All these useless tears, not enough to put out the fire, not even in my own heart. And yet, I hear the strains of Amazing Grace skirling in the distant corners of the mind.

Cal Fire officials said the 75,781-acre Valley Fire in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties is the third-worst wildfire in state history in terms of the number of damaged structures. The 118-square-mile Valley Fire that started Sept. 12 in southern Lake County damaged 1,780 structures as of Monday afternoon, Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

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